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Calls for Government to pay back £2.4 billion to public sector workers

George Georgiou

Government must honour promises made to more than four million public sector workers being swindled after Ministers’ errors, says GMB. Contributor George Georgiou, National Pensions Organiser – GMB.

GMB, Britain’s general union, is demanding the Government makes good on its promise to pay back the £2.4 billion the union estimates it owes to more than four million public sector workers.

Since 2015, 4.1 million people working for the NHS, the civil service and in local government have effectively been overcharged for their pensions.

Under a deal negotiated by unions including GMB on how to draw benefits due to the cost cap mechanism the £2 billion was going to be paid back to the workers by reducing their future pension contributions and/or improving benefits.

But the Government now wants to use the cash to pay for the aftermath of a legal challenge it faced to its botched plan to raise the retirement age for public sector workers, known as the McCloud judgment.

Under a Government scheme, people close to retirement were protected from the changes and allowed to stay in their existing pension schemes – a move which has been found to be age discriminatory by the courts. The Government is now withholding the surplus pension money while it appeals the court’s decision.

Treasury Minister Liz Truss revealed remedies that would realise real and substantial benefit improvements to GMB members have been paused as a consequence of the judgement going against ministers.

GMB, which has hundreds of thousands of members affected by the unprecedented decision, has today written to the Prime Minister to demand action to protect public sector workers’ pensions.

The union will also petition Liz Truss campaigning to get the pause lifted. GMB says it is completely unacceptable for the Government to pinch £2.4 billion from more than four million people’s pensions to pay for its own mistakes – and called for the withholding of benefits to be lifted immediately.

George Georgiou, GMB National Pensions Organiser, said: “It’s absolutely outrageous ministers think they can swindle £2.4 billion out of dedicated public sector workers’ pensions. These are the people who keep our health service, councils and government running.

“Our public sector workers graft hard for years, saving for their retirement, only for the Government to take their money to pay for ministers’ own mistakes. They should be ashamed of themselves and take steps to put it right immediately – these improvements to benefits are needed particularly for low paid public sector workers.

“No one signed up to work longer, pay more and get less against real term pay cuts. GMB won’t stop fighting until ministers put an end to the great public sector pension swindle.”

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